Did Anyone Else Get 33% More Likely To Buy An iPhone Yesterday?

Okay, so y’all did see the coverage of Apple’s little shindig yesterday where they announced

  • New iPod Nanos with screen rezzes equivalent to the iPod Video
  • iPod “Classics” featuring 80GB and 160(!)GB capacities
  • The friggin’ iPod “Touch”, otherwise known as “iPhone Without The Phone Part”
  • And a $200 drop on the iPhone’s previously astronomical pricetag

…Cause, dang, son, those are some sexy new audioplayer options. I do think they should have offered a third Touch model with a regular HDD instead of flash so that there was at least a 30GB option for that super-sweet piece of technology, but oh well.
Oh, and there was some folderol about being able to make ringtones out of your iTunes purchases, but I (among others) don’t quite see what all the fuss is about that.
And there was something about overpriced coffee to go with your overwrought pop music, but I kinda quit paying attention at that point.
PS: Congrats to the WordPress.com/Automattic team, as they hosted Gizmodo’s live coverage of the Stevenote with aplomb, skipping nary a beat.

A Bountiful Link-Filled Catch-Up

I am fully cognizant of my delinquent blogging — apologies all around. I’ve been in full recovery mode since taking the redeye from SFO to PHL on Friday night. Short observations on that flight? Sucked like a brand-new Dyson 07 with the full pet hair kit. Stupid US Airways.
In exchange for my previous silence, please accept this surplus of links.
This is my kind of math: 1 rainy/icy racetrack + multiple expensive race cars + a massive pileup = millions of USD/GBP in damage, 0 fatalities. Nice.
WordPress converts aplenty: Michelle Malkin moved from an On’B MT-powered site to a brand-spankin’ WordPress one. Jeff Goldstein dumped Emotion Engine for WordPress, while Fred Thompson’s official blog was built from the ground-up using WP.
iPhone-tailored apps (read: websites for the iPhone’s tiny Safari browser) have already started hitting the streets, thus an aggregation site was nigh-inevitable, of course.
The Payback Project — stickin’ it to sucka GOP Senatorz that be all “We’ll vote to let the illegals ignore our laws ’cause then they’ll totally vote for us. Or maybe their kids will.” “Teach the GOP to respect their base again — the hard way” — fo’ sheezy.
Speaking of “fo’ sheezy”: Geek bling keyboard rings. To paraphrase a certain incarcerated celebrity heiress: “That’s Ctrl-Alt-Del hot.”
Life as a videogame character? It has its plusses and minuses.
LOLCODE: taking both the lolcats meme and programming where both probably ne’er should have ventured. LOLBOTS, on the other hand, is the utlimate incarnation of the joke.
John Hodgman as Steve Jobs in the intro to WWDC last week:

Speaking of WWDC, I posted my crappy cameraphone pics from the conference over at my Zooomr page.
Can’t forget the transforming Transformers cosplayers:

First-Rate Geeky Command Line Head-Smackage

BASH - in the flesh.
If you have no desire to read about login shells, Linux, source code management or other similarly geeky content, you’d best be skipping this one. -ed.
Have you ever allowed a nuisance to go on for literally years simply because you couldn’t be bothered to do enough research to effectively nip it in the bud? I personally had two such nuisances (of a particularly geeky variety) come crashing down this past week.

BASHing My Head In

I, like many UNIX users that spend a good deal of time in a command line environment, prefer to customize my environment so that I can save myself keystrokes, work and headaches. Through judicious use of environment variables, aliases and custom shell prompts, I have made it easy for me to be able to determine where in a filesystem I am at a glance, run commands from any number of frequently-accessed binary directories, ssh to my various and sundry boxes, etc. I have done this on every UNIX box that I have spent any considerable amount of time on since at least my early days in college and, as I am a dyed-in-the-wool BASH user, I have always stored my preferences in a file called .bashrc that sits in the root of my home directory. While at Lehigh, having a .bashrc was sufficient to automatically customize my environment every time I logged in. However, ever since joining my current firm, I have been unable to get any of the UNIX boxes at work to recognize my configuration file automatically. Instead, I have had to type bash each time I logged in in order to obtain the customizations.
Two days ago, I had a brainstorm – I realized that some users were known to squirrel their preferences away in a file called .bash_profile and, in a fit of pique, I symbollically-linked my .bashrc to ~/.bash_profile, then logged in to a random UNIX box. Lo and behold, I was immediately presented with my fully-customized shell. I was at once elated and furious – I have, over the past six years or so, typed “bash” countless times, meaning that I could have saved myself and my fingers 4 x countless keystrokes, wear and tear and keyboard mileage. Grrrr.

Subversive Behavior

I update all of the installations of WordPress that I maintain via Subversion and have largely automated the process via a shell script, although I have left a few of them out of the script so that I can update them more and/or less frequently as situations require. In both real-time and in my scripts, I traverse into the base directory of each blog and run a Subversion update; in other words, `cd [blog directory];svn up`. I was goofing around a couple of days ago and decided to actually pass the directory as an argument to the Subversion update, so I ran a test `svn update [blog directory]` from the base of my Dreamhost home directory. Et voila!, it worked like a charm. To date I have thus effectively wasted thousands of both keystrokes and CPU cycles traversing my directory tree instead of simply running a single command.
I share these insights in the hopes that they will save someone, somewhere some measure of blood, sweat, tears, effort and tedious manpage reading.

The Web Is Awash In Wiki-Related Geekery

To wit:
Exhibit A: Wookieepedia, the Star Wars Wiki, possibly one of the geekiest Wikis out there.
Exhibit B: Wikipedia Brown and the Case of the Captured Koala, a piece which should make old-school readers’ hearts jump for referential joy. It begins:

Mr. and Mrs. Brown had one child. They called him Leroy, and so did his teachers.
Everyone else in Idaville called him Wikipedia.
Wikipedia is a web site giving information on all branches of knowledge. It allows visitors to add, remove, or otherwise edit and change its content. It is therefore possible for large number so f people to create articles and update them quickly as new information becomes available.
Leroy Brown’s head was like Wikipedia. It was filled with facts he had learned there. He was like the entire Wikipedia web site walking around on sneakers. Simon Baron-Cohen had written a paper about him.

If you aren’t overcome by a wave of potent nostalgia and the scent of pink rubber erasers, well, I’m assuming you never participated in a Scholastic Book Fair. You philistine (pfeh!).

Required Daily Viewing

First off, a love song, sung by geeks, gone horribly, horribly awry:

Next up, one of the absolute high points in Western action cinema, the car chase sequence from Bullitt:

From Web 0 to Web 2.0 in five minutes’ time:

Lastly, rock out to the oxymoronic “Heck No! (I’ll Never Listen To Techno)”:

Stephenson’s Work On The Small Screen? Hooray! Diamond Age! Eh. George Clooney! …Wha?

Glenn Reynolds pointed out the following highly interesting story over at SciFi.com today:

The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady\'s Illustrated Primer (Bantam Spectra Book)Diamond Age, based on Neal Stephenson’s best-selling novel The Diamond Age: Or a Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer, is a six-hour miniseries from Clooney and fellow executive producer Grant Heslov of Smokehouse Productions.
When a prominent member of society concludes that the futuristic civilization in which he lives is stifling creativity, he commissions an interactive book for his daughter that serves as a guide through a surreal alternate world. Stephenson will adapt his novel for the miniseries, the first time the Hugo and Nebula award winner has written for TV.

My heart simultaneously leaped and sunk as I read those words in roughly the following order of rationales:

  1. A Neal Stephenson mini-series? Awesome!
  2. It’s not Snow Crash? D’oh!
  3. Oh, it’s The Diamond Age. I guess that’s okay.
  4. George Clooney is producing it? Crap.
  5. Well, at least Stephenson is being tasked with writing the screen adaptation.

So, I guess we’ll see what comes of it. If it completely rocks, maybe SciFi and Stephenson can work on Snow Crash as a follow-up. I so want to see The Deliverator and “Reason” brought to the screen, silver or small, it matters not which.

Am I The Only One Affected By The Effects Of Grammar?

A colleague was drafting a memo to send out company-wide today and forwarded it to me for review. The copy was mostly good, although he referenced several “servers that will be effected by ongoing work” or somesuch. I replied that, while the memo itself was good, I had a grammatical bone to pick: the servers would be “affected” by the work, not “effected”. He replied that he remained convinced that “e” was the correct word, which sent me on a wild Googling spree.
I have always seen usage in-line with that which I outlined above (this quiz seems to bear out my conclusion – answers are here, for anyone that’s interested), and so I decided to try to run down the definitive answer. Unfortunately, Merriam-Webster is next-to-no help, but, in addition to the quiz mentioned above, I also found a few tips and tricks for remembering the difference and I appeal to no less authority than the Oxford English Dictionary’s site to prove me correct.
Am I off my rocker to be bothered by stuff like this? Should I have objected? After all, I was just trying to keep my colleague from embarrassing himself in a company-wide fashion.
And yes, I know, this makes me a huge, semantic, pedantic, annoying geek. Unfortunately, the intended audience of the email is filled with huge, semantic, pedantic, annoying, geeky engineers. I’m just trying to help a brother out!